Alaska Digest

Posted: Sunday, October 07, 2007

Coeur Alaska's Arnold to leave the company

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JUNEAU - Tim Arnold is leaving his post as vice president and general manager of Coeur Alaska, a company representative confirmed Friday.

Coeur owns the Kensington gold mine, about 45 miles north of downtown.

Tony Ebersole, spokesman for Coeur Alaska, declined to comment or elaborate on Arnold's departure, saying it was a general policy not to comment on personnel issues.

"He's pursuing other opportunities," Ebersole said. "And with regards to a replacement, we will get that information to you as soon as we are able."

Barge goes aground near Unalaska

KODIAK - A 271-foot freight barge that went aground near Unalaska on Friday was later refloated, the Coast Guard said.

The barge grounded on rocks on the northeast side of Summer's Bay early Friday. It was refloated at 2:55 p.m., said Coast Guard spokesman Kurt Fredrickson. The vessel was inspected and damage was found on the right side of its stern, he said.

The Coast Guard said the barge was not carrying fuel internally and no fuel was detected on the water. The destination and materials being transported on the barge were not immediately known.

The Coast Guard said it was reviewing a salvage plan with the barge owners.

The barge is owned by Portland, Ore.-based Zidell Marine Corp. and is under contract to Seattle-based Western Towboat, Inc.

Western Towboat port captain Jeff Slesinger said the barge was on its last supply run of the season to communities in the northeastern Bering Sea and Kuskokwim Delta area when the mishap occurred.

Court trims clerical sexual abuse cases

FAIRBANKS - Attorneys working with a Superior Court judge have agreed to a schedule to proceed with a slew of clerical sexual abuse cases involving four religious organizations.

"My goal is to spend some time with you to see where you are and what you need to get the court in a responsive mode," said Superior Court Judge Niesje Steinkruger on Thursday.

By the end of the day, the 135 cases had been trimmed to 10 cases with all parties agreeing to a timeline to proceed.

Steinkruger called the clerical sexual abuse cases the most complex litigation within the Alaska Court System next to oil and fisheries negotiations.

"This is one of the main important issues facing the Yukon-Delta," she said.

The pros and cons of trying only 10 cases and putting the remaining plaintiffs on hold was discussed and agreed upon as long as all plaintiffs consented to the plan.

Many of the cases date back to 2003 when the first civil suits were filed against the bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Northern Alaska, based in Fairbanks, and the Society of Jesus, Oregon Province and Alaska. Two cases have been filed against the Archdiocese of Anchorage.

The two main defendants have settled with some litigants.

The Society of Jesus has settled 29 cases and has 104 pending against it. The Fairbanks Catholic Diocese compensated six plaintiffs and has approximately 135 cases outstanding against it.

Anchorage attorney Ken Roosa said three of his clients have died since they filed and that he will advise his remaining clients that trying a smaller cross-section of cases is the fastest way to get resolution.

Man sentenced to 50 years for killing mom

FAIRBANKS - A Fairbanks man who was found guilty of killing his mother two years ago, saying angels told him to do it, was sentenced to 50 years in prison Thursday.

Curtis Upton, 31, was convicted of first-degree murder after strangling and bludgeoning 55-year-old Pamela Joy Upton two years ago.

Superior Court Judge Mark Wood ordered that Upton receive psychiatric care during confinement. He said Upton could serve longer if he is deemed dangerous to the public at the end of his term.

Upton pleaded guilty to the charge after prosecutors agreed to drop three lesser charges and keep his jail term at a 50-year maximum.

Upton was subject to a maximum prison sentence of 99 years.

Pamela Upton was killed in her home in Fairbanks, authorities said. They said her son started a fire near a wood stove to try to make her death look like an accident.

"The fact that he has a mental illness doesn't mean that he couldn't appreciate the wrongfulness of his conduct," Wood said.

The nature of Upton's mental illness was not disclosed, and Upton said little at his sentencing.

Upton's attorney described the aspiring accountant as an intelligent and mild-mannered person who felt no animosity toward his mother when he killed her.

"Mr. Upton, in reality, believed that he was obeying orders from up above, or a higher power, when this happened," his attorney, Paul Canarsky, said.

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